The Duke Effect by Sophie Jordan | Review

<strong>The Duke Effect</strong> Book Cover
The Duke Effect The Rogue Files #7 Romance, Historical Fiction Avon Paperback 352 pages Amazon | Goodreads

She doesn’t care about love…

Despite being surrounded by her happily wed sisters, Nora Langley prefers botany to ballrooms and would rather spend a lifetime in her laboratory than consider affairs of the heart. An expert herbalist, Nora has been masquerading as her late physician father for years, dispensing invaluable medical advice. She corresponds with people all over the world, including an old army colonel. But when the man shows up on her doorstep, he is nothing like she expected—he is a young, handsome heir to a dukedom who suddenly threatens everything she holds dear.

He only cares about duty…

Constantine Sinclair arrives on the Langley doorstep in a desperate bid to save the woman who raised him, the Duchess of Birchwood… only to discover that the venerable doctor he expected is a bold and lovely charlatan. Furious at the deception, he vows to reveal her secrets. Determined to prove her skills, Nora promises to save the duchess in exchange for Con keeping her secret. Con reluctantly agrees… and soon, Nora’s brilliant, headstrong ways are throwing his carefully controlled life into chaos. What happens when the rigid soldier begins to lose his grip on his heart?

If you’re looking for a historical romance with a strong female character, a brooding male lead, and a little bit of steaminess, then look no further.

I found both characters to be interesting. Nora was a strong-willed woman who wanted more out of life. I liked that she wanted to have a career and goes against societal expectations. She is not afraid to stand up for herself. Con is a man who has a strong sense of duty and most of his actions throughout the novel are driven by this. Con probably grows the most, finally deciding to follow his heart, instead of what others say he should do.

I did feel like the characters were constantly avoiding each other. And although I liked this novel, I felt that some of the buildups of the relationship were lost because of this. Sidelong glances and attraction do not show why the characters are a match. I would have liked to see a little more time together between our leads. There was also a slightly absurd scene with a “love-potion” that I found a bit out of place and served no purpose except to bring our characters together sexually.

Overall this was a satisfying read. By the halfway point, I didn’t want to put this down. The novel included many tropes romance readers will be familiar with and the two main characters were an interesting match. Although part of a series, this story does well as a standalone, and I didn’t feel you missed much in terms of backstory.

Thank you NetGalley for providing a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Enthrall Secrets by Vanessa Fewings | Review

Enthrall Secrets Book Cover
Enthrall Secrets Enthrall Sessions (Book 7) Fiction, Erotica Audiobook

ENTHRALL SECRETS tells the long-awaited story of Scarlet Winters, the infamous, fiery dominatrix from the exclusive Los Angeles BDSM club Enthrall.

The Obsession of the Forbidden.

The promise of salvation.

That was his offer. If I surrendered completely. I’d be rewarded with nothing less than my very own salvation.

And I needed it. Quite simply, I was drowning until billionaire Danton Belfort swept me up into his world.

His unmatched reputation for mastering submissives was legendary. His methods cruel, yet beautiful. Commanding, yet delicate. He was willing to do whatever it took to reach beyond my veil of pain and ensure a transformation that would render me reborn as the most dazzling of dominatrixes.

If the process didn’t obliterate me.

All I had to do was survive. Survive him. Survive myself.

Audible | Amazon | iTunes | Goodreads


Review

This novel was really two stories in once. We follow Scarlet in the past and present through two different relationships with Danton and Ethan. It was interesting that Fewings uses the conflicts of one character to connect with the past of another. Both are instant love connections, but intimacy appears genuine.

Although this novel was about a dominatrix, I found the erotic scenes to be quite tame. This novel was about Scarlet’s personal life with a sprinkle of her profession. Based on the description (which, completely leaves out Ethan), I was expecting more intense sequences. I’m not disappointed with what was produced, I just thought it would be more.

I enjoyed Hart’s sultry voice as the narrator, however, I found the narration to be a bit robotic, especially at the beginning of the novel. I had a difficult time getting past this until I became absorbed in the story. Hart did create a character but they fell a bit flat.

Overall, an enjoyable romance which includes erotic scenes throughout. Enthrall Secrets is an easy read and fits nicely within the contemporary romance genre.


Meet the Author

Vanessa Fewings is the bestselling romance author of the highly acclaimed Enthrall Sessions.

Vanessa is also the author of The Stone Masters Vampire Series. Prior to publishing, Vanessa worked as a registered nurse and midwife. She holds a Masters Degree in Psychology. She has traveled extensively throughout the world and has lived in Germany, Hong Kong, and Cyprus.

Born and raised in England, Vanessa now proudly calls herself an American and resides in California with her husband.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Newsletter | Google+ | Pinterest | Instagram

I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke | Review

Mighty Jack Book Cover
Mighty Jack Mighty Jack (Book 1) Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Fantasy First Second Hardcover 208 pages Amazon

Jack might be the only kid in the world who’s dreading summer. But he’s got a good reason: summer is when his single mom takes a second job and leaves him at home to watch his autistic kid sister, Maddy. It’s a lot of responsibility, and it’s boring, too, because Maddy doesn’t talk. Ever. But then, one day at the flea market, Maddy does talk―to tell Jack to trade their mom’s car for a box of mysterious seeds. It’s the best mistake Jack has ever made.

In Mighty Jack, what starts as a normal little garden out back behind the house quickly grows up into a wild, magical jungle with tiny onion babies running amok, huge, pink pumpkins that bite, and, on one moonlit night that changes everything…a dragon.

Review

Jack doesn’t have the best summer to look forward to. His mom must take on a second job, leaving him to watch his younger sister, Maddy. One day at a flea market, a stranger offers Jack magic beans in exchange for his mom’s car. Maddy, who never talks, finally says words to have Jack make the trade. As they begin to plant the seeds, Maddy and Jack realize this won’t be an ordinary garden.

I loved the basis as a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. Retelling stories have so much potential and it’s always interesting to see a new interpretation. I have to admit, I wanted this story to be so much more and was disappointed. There was an opportunity to round out the characters, but Hatke misses it. We have three characters with struggles that never get developed.  We have a mother struggling to pay bills, get a second job, and don’t have the time to spend with her children. Jack is a young boy put into an adult situation of caring for his sibling and keeping the house in order. Maddy doesn’t speak but shows a strong curiosity. The story skirts around the realness of these characters and focuses more on the garden.

I also felt like there was no arc to this story. It isn’t very long, but there should still be a rise and fall. Instead, the entire book is an upward climb to the final moment in which readers are left with a cliff hanger. Nothing was resolved. The graphics were beautiful and the color palate was complimentary, but it wasn’t enough the save this lackluster story.


I received a complimentary copy of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Mother by Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross | Review

<strong>Mother</strong> Book Cover
Mother Horror Glass Apple Press ebook 464 pages Amazon

A Girl’s Worst Nightmare is Her Mother …

Priscilla Martin. She’s the diva of Morning Glory Circle and a driving force in the quaint California town of Snapdragon. Overseer of garage sales and neighborhood Christmas decorations, she is widely admired. But few people know the real woman behind the perfectly coiffed hair and Opium perfume.

Family is Forever. And Ever and Ever …

No one escapes Prissy’s watchful eye. No one that is, except her son, who committed suicide many years ago, and her daughter, Claire, who left home more than a decade past and hasn’t spoken to her since. But now, Priscilla’s daughter and son-in-law have fallen on hard times. Expecting their first child, the couple is forced to move back … And Prissy is there to welcome them home with open arms … and to reclaim her broken family.

The Past Isn’t Always as Bad as You Remember.

Sometimes it’s Worse …

Claire has terrible memories of her mother, but now it seems Priscilla has mended her ways. When a cache of vile family secrets is uncovered, Claire struggles to determine fact from fiction, and her husband, Jason, begins to wonder who the monster really is. Lives are in danger – and Claire and Jason must face a horrifying truth … a truth that may destroy them … and will forever change their definition of “Mother.”

 

Review

Claire and Jason are down on their luck. After both losing jobs and expecting their first child, they find themselves getting help from an unlikely source…Claire’s Mother, Priscilla. Claire hasn’t seen or spoken to her mother in nearly a decade. She is uneasy about the arrangement, with bad feelings and old memories struggling to the surface. Priscilla appears to be on her best behavior and has won Claire’s husband, Jason, over. However, Claire’s apprehension is beginning to distort reality and change her personality. Is Mother really the monster Claire claims her to be?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Thorne and Cross did a fantastic job building suspense and agitation as the story unfolds. The story provides snapshots of different characters and makes you second guess opinions. What I enjoyed most is how among the horror and suspense, Thorne and Cross satirize human relationships and envy. It was a clever way to further the idea of not truly knowing who are neighbors/friends are. The ending was quite different than I imagined but entirely justified and honest once revelations are made. It really ended with a bang!

Mother is not a gory horror story and toys more with the mind. There are some disturbing scenes and flashbacks. This was a wonderful story with a driven plot and interesting characters. Don’t be afraid…read Mother.

Also, check out my interview with the authors.


I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy | Review

<strong>You Were Here</strong> Book Cover
You Were Here Young Adult, Friendship, Grief Sourcebooks Fire Hardcover 400 pages Amazon

Jaycee is about to accomplish what her older brother Jake couldn’t: live past graduation.

Jaycee is dealing with her brother’s death the only way she can―by re-creating Jake’s daredevil stunts. The ones that got him killed.

Jaycee doesn’t expect to have help on her insane quest of urban exploration to remember Jake. But she’s joined by a group of unlikely friends―all with their own reasons for completing the dares and their own brand of dysfunction:

Natalie: the ex-best friend

Bishop: the heartbroken poet

Zach: the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome, and…

Mik: who doesn’t speak, but somehow still challenges Jayce to do the unthinkable-reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

From the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum to the skeletal remains of the world’s largest amusement park, You Were Here takes you on an unforgettable journey of friendship, heartbreak, and inevitable change.

 

Review

The loss of a friend or loved one can affect people in different ways. Jaycee lost her brother, Jake, a year ago when he was performing a dangerous playground stunt. His loss changed who she was and she struggled with a world without him. On the night of this tragic anniversary, Jaycee visits one of her brother’s favorite locations. Wanted or not, Jaycee is surrounded by four friends and they discover a map with Jake’s explored territories. Together, they decide to visit each location and perform the dares left behind.

I found this to be a beautiful story of loss, friendship, romance, and self-discovery. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a member of the group. Two of these are told through imagery, though not enough to call this a graphic novel. There is so much going on in this novel, which I believe imitates life very well. Not only does the story cover grief and mourning, but shows characters transitioning into adulthood and the changes that come with it.

I really enjoyed this book. Once it started, I couldn’t put it down. I laughed. I cried. I asked questions about life. McCarthy created a magnificent story that exposed the vulnerability and secrecy one person can hold. I highly recommend this one.

And lastly…

I don’t normally discuss book covers, but it is hard not to with this one. It is gorgeous. Sometimes a book gets a beautiful cover and sometimes not. You Were Here definitely did. I also like that after reading this novel, the cover speaks volumes to me. Great job to the artist/designer on this one.

I received a complimentary e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts by Maja Safstrom | Review

<strong>The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts</strong> Book Cover
The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts Nonfiction Ten Speed Press Hardcover 120 pages Amazon

Did you know that an octopus has three hearts?

Or that ostriches can’t walk backward?

Or that a group of owls is called a parliament, or that they have three eyelids?

Sea otters hold hands in their sleep, bees never sleep, and penguins laugh when they’re tickled!

This charming compendium contains over 100 pages of fascinating facts about the animal kingdom illustrated with whimsical detail.

 

Review

So, here is a short review, for a little book.

In this cute, addictive book, MAJA SÄFSTRÖM creates wonderfully quirky animal illustrations with accompanying facts.

I really loved this book. It is quite short (120 pages) with little text, so I flew through it. Not only were the illustrations eye-catching, but the animal facts were just as interesting. I ended up reading the book aloud to my husband!

Check out this book. Adults and kids will find it fascinating.


I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher through Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

Surviving High School by Lele Pons | Review

<strong>Surviving High School</strong> Book Cover
Surviving High School Young Adult, Romance Gallery Books Hardcover 272 pages Amazon

Ten million followers and I still sit alone at lunch. Lele is a bulls-eye target at her new school in Miami until, overnight, her digital fame catapults the girl with cheerleader looks, a seriously silly personality, and a self-deprecating funny bone into the popular crowd. Now she’s facing a whole new set of challenges—the relentless drama, the ruthless cliques, the unexpected internet celebrity—all while trying to keep her grades up and make her parents proud.

Filled with the zany enthusiasm that has made Lele into Vine’s most viewed star, this charming novel is proof that high school is a trip. From crushing your crushes (what’s up with that hot transfer student Alexei??) to throwing Insta-fake parties with your BFFs and moaning over homework (GAH) with your frenemies, high school is a rollercoaster of exhilarating highs and totally embarrassing lows. Leave it to Lele to reassure us that falling flat on your face is definitely not the end of the world. Fans of Mean Girls will love this fun and heartwarming fish-out-of-water story.

 

Review

I’m not a Vine follower, so coming into this, I had no idea who Lele Pons was. Surviving High School is described as a fictional autobiography of Pons’ own experience. This is a story of “fictional” Lele Pons and how she copes with starting at a new high school

Lele is a very quirky and witty character. I think a lot of what happens in this novel can translate to teens/adults all over. High school can be a challenge and I think that was covered nicely. The characters seemed to flow and interact well with each other.

It can be a bit confusing knowing that some of the events are real and some are fake. I almost wish, Pons had just written an autobiography. I found myself wanting to know what was true and I’m sure her own life is equally fascinating that a nonfiction book would be well-read.

Overall, a good, cute, and funny book.


I received a complimentary electronic copy of this novel from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for a honest review.

Fate Ball by Adam W. Jones | Review

Fate Ball Book Cover
Fate Ball Romance Hardcover 298 pages Amazon

Able Curran had no idea that a chance meeting at a local fraternity party would change his life . . . but it did.  Meeting Ava Gardner Dubose was the best thing to ever happen in his young life . . . and the worst.  He discovered a depth of love that he never knew existed.  And, a love that would forever tie him to Ava even through her darkest days of alcohol and drug addiction.

Fate Ball is a story about a first love that lived on long after the relationship ended.  A love that would forever link the lives of Able and Ava, whether they lived thousands of miles away from each other or just

across town.  Fate Ball bounced into Able’s life in the form of a beautiful blonde with a wild side.  What began as the perfect young man fantasy turned into a quest to save a first love from herself and the demons that ruled her from within.

 

Review

Able and Ava met randomly at a party. It seemed to be a perfect match; they were meant for each other. As time passes, their relationship succeeds and struggles, torn by addiction. Able’s love for Ava is strong, but is it enough to save her from herself?

This is quite a heartbreaking love story. Addiction is a terrible thing. I haven’t personally had a relationship with someone who had an addiction, but Jones’ novel paints a clear picture. Ava’s destructive behavior affects everyone in her life and their love for her keeps them tethered.

I really loved the evolution of this novel. The events span over 14 years. Jones begins with the present and then provides flashbacks to moments in the past. Able and Ava had a beautiful and cute start to their relationship. Their opposite personalities fit well together and they were what the other needed. Even when they were no longer together, fate continued to bring them to the same place. By the end of the novel, everything felt full circle.

Jones writes from both Able’s and Ava’s perspective. This really helped give an aspect of reality to the story. Every person experiences life differently and I appreciated that we were able to glimpse life through both these character’s eyes.

Fate Ball was a very powerful read. The novel moved along at a steady pace and each moment added to the story. This isn’t a “happily ever after” book, but sometimes we need a story that isn’t fantastical. Beautifully written, full of emotion, Jones should be proud of the work he created.


I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum | Review

<strong>Tell Me Three Things</strong> Book Cover
Tell Me Three Things Young Adult, Romance Delacorte Press Paperback 352 pages Amazon

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son, and to start at a new school where she knows no one.

Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Review

I think I just found my new favorite book! I loved this book. I loved it so much, I read it in one day. It was everything I wanted it to be and more.

Jessie is starting her junior year of high school at a new school, in a new city, in a different state, in a new home, with a new step-family. It wasn’t exactly a smooth transition. Just when all is lost, Jessie receives an anonymous email for Somebody/Nobody (SN). SN says they want to help Jessie transition into her new school and life. Can Jessie trust SN or is a cruel joke?

There is a lot going on with this story. Tell Me Three Things follows Jessie as she finds her place in new surroundings. This is a story about friendship and family with a romantic comedy element thrown in.

Jessie is a complex character with real issues and feelings that many readers can relate to. She lost her mom, has to adjust to a new family, and deal with leaving her old life and best friend behind as she moves across the country. As someone who moved to a new state in middle school, I definitely related to Jessie’s struggle and hopelessness.

I love all the characters in the book. Buxbaum has done a beautiful job at giving all her characters substance. Even supporting characters are rounded and given enough detail to make them real. Many characters have moments of growth, which just adds a more realistic aspect to the novel.

This book is sad at times, laugh out loud funny, thoughtful, and sweet. Beyond dealing with her family life, Jessie also experiences her first crush. While watching Jessie engage in the trials of high school romance, I couldn’t help but think of my own awkward experiences.

I could probably talk about this novel until I turn blue. I don’t want to give anything away so I’m going to end by recommending you pick up this novel. It is a beautiful and humorous story. You won’t be disappointed.


I received a complimentary ARC of this novel through First In Line.

 

 

Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor | Review

<strong>Into the Dim</strong> Book Cover
Into the Dim Into the Dim (Book 1) Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy HMH Books for Young Readers Hardcover 432 pages Amazon

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. And she’s alive, though currently trapped in the twelfth century, during the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Passing through the Dim, Hope enters a brutal medieval world of political intrigue, danger, and violence. A place where any serious interference could alter the very course of history. And when she meets a boy whose face is impossibly familiar, she must decide between her mission and her heart—both of which could leave Hope trapped in the past forever.      

Review

Hope believed her mother died during an earthquake months earlier overseas. Then she receives an invite to stay with her aunt in Scotland and everything changes. Hope’s family are part of a secret time traveler society and they need her help. She has seventy-two hours to go back in time and rescue her mother or be lost forever.

I love when a book doesn’t fit into a single genre. It’s a nice change and can provide quite the interesting plot. I’m a fan of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and Into the Dim is a great read-a-like for teens. This book has time travel, humor, romance, and history. It is non-stop plot action from beginning to end.

I found the love interest aspect of the novel to be quite predictable, but then Taylor threw in some curve balls and I’m intrigued to see how it plays out in future novels. Speaking of characters, I really liked them. Each character had a unique personality and secrets that made them well rounded. I feel that we get a good introduction to the characters, but the plot moved fast, which didn’t give us enough time with them. I hope to learn more about their past as the series continues.

Into the Dim appeals to many readers and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this series become the next big thing.


I received a complimentary electronic ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.